Bernette Ford, who made children’s books more diverse, dies at 70


Not all of Ms. Ford’s work was devoted to books emphasizing diversity. As the head of Cartwheel, she was responsible for mainstream hits like the Clifford the Big Red Dog books and the “I Spy” series, and her own writings included books for the very young that used animal characters – “No More Pacifier for Piggy! “(2008), for example, and” No more covers for Lambkin! (2009). But with Color-Bridge Books, she was particularly interested in books with diverse characters, written and illustrated by people of color.

A series she created, titled “Just for You!” Featured both established writers like Derrick Barnes and newcomers (as well as several titles she wrote herself).

“It was like a dream come true,” she told Black Issues Book Review in 2004, “the opportunity to work with authors and artists of color on a series of high quality original paperbacks featuring everyday stories about everyday children who happen to be Black. “

In an email, Wade Hudson of Just Us Books called Ms. Ford “an unsung heroine who seeks to attract more people of color to publishing children’s books.”

Bernette Goldsen was born on June 30, 1950 in Brooklyn. Her father, Morton, was a factory worker and later foreman, and her mother, Martha (Short) Goldsen, was a singer, actress, music teacher and seamstress.

She grew up in Uniondale, Long Island. In “We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices,” a 2018 collection of anecdotes and poems by writers of color released by the Hudsons Company, Ms. Ford wrote about a moment from her childhood that made an impression. peculiar: In 1963, her parents opened their home to a girl from the South, giving her several weeks of respite from the civil rights violence that dominated that part of the country at the time.

“She inspired us with her bravery, her stories and her wit,” Ms. Ford wrote, “and her determination to fight until she obtains justice for black people in her town and throughout the South.”


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